New Delhi: Former Delhi Police Chief Commissioner Ajay Raj Sharma in a recent book revealed that the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and then Home Minister LK Advani were unhappy over the registration of cricket match-fixing case against then South African team captain Hansie Cronje. It was only the confession of Cronje that placated them.
In the book titled “Biting the Bullet – Memories of a Police Officer” was released on Thursday, the author highlighted that the confession of Cronje came as a big relief to him. He said that when the registration of FIR was done, “the Home Minister at the time was out of Delhi and so was the Prime Minister”.
“When the Prime Minister returned, the High Commissioner of South Africa showed her great resentment and protested that a case had been registered against the Captain and some of the other members of South African team, who were celebrities and had a great fan following in South Africa,” he writes.
He said the Prime Minister was disturbed by the development who also spoke to the Home Minister and expressed his disappointment about the decision to the Delhi Police who registered the case.
Sharma said that the then Lieutenant Governor was summoned “The Home Minister summoned the Lieutenant Governor and me to his office the next day. On the way, something fortuitous happened. A South African journalist called me to ask about my reaction to the confession made by Hansie Cronje hardly an hour ago!”
He said the journalist had informed him that Cronje confessed about match-fixing and the involvement of some of his teammates in the case for monetary gains.
Sharma then narrated about what happened at the Home Minister’s office. “When the Home Minister asked me why a criminal case was registered against members of the South African team, I requested him to allow me to switch on the television in his office. As soon I switched on the TV, the Home Minister witnessed the Hansie Cronje kneeling before a priest and making the confession.”
Sharma said he was relieved after the incident and was not asked anything.
The probe into cricket match-fixing came to standstill after efforts to interrogate alleged bookie Sanjeev Chawla, Cronje and others remained unsuccessful, Sharma said.
“Efforts made via the Foreign Ministry and through the Interpol were not successful. Without being able to interrogate the key players, the Delhi Police investigation could not progress further. A non-bailable warrant issued against Sanjeev Chawla by the court was sent to the UK for execution through Interpol which also issued a red corner notice against him,” Sharma said.
The case was registered in April 2000 and it was only last week in February 2020, Delhi police managed to extradite key accused Chawla from the UK.